Online Education Impacts Campuses – 2017

Equivalent of 500,000 undergrads are only online

Is traditional undergraduate campus building space being made less necessary by online education? Yes.

The growth of online education is depressing the need for the brick and mortar of campuses just like online sales are reducing the need for retail space. In fall 2015 the scale of the undergraduate impact was      12 Arizona States or          52 Harvards.

 

So far more than 23 million square feet of traditional campus space has been obviated by online education. This space is existing and unbuilt.

  • Existing – excess space that is no longer needed; and
  • Unbuilt – space that need not be built.

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Neuroscience and Campus – Memory and Place

tower-stair-2Memory has been tethered to place by human evolution. Campuses have been among these places for more than a thousand years.

The Question  As students and teachers swim further into the digital stream of online education and simulated reality, will place continue to matter?

This question has taken me far beyond the disciplines of brick and mortar. Higher education, sociology, cultural anthropology, student life, academic business, learning analytics, neuroscience and artificial intelligence have all been on my reading list.

My research is not complete, but my tentative conclusion:

For centuries, campus has been part of the standard paradigm. It has always been there – a setting, not a participant. The future of the campus in the learning enterprise depends on being re-designed to be an agent, a necessary supportive ingredient, not just being there.

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University Architect – Builder / Steward / Shaper

The roles and responsibilities of a university architect ebb and flow with changes in administration and each particular project. When fast and cheap are valued, the role is to build short-term solutions. If investment in the future is intended a balance of stewardship and creativity is required.

Fluid Environments – Expectations vary for each campus and project. They swing through a wide range, project to project and campus to campus. This dynamic can make a university architect feel the need to be a like a chameleon, shifting from one context to another. In one setting the responsibilities are direct implementation according to established rules. In another, extensive consultation and consideration of long-term consequences are expected. Continue reading

Why Campus Matters: Knowledge, Innovation, Efficacy and Synchronicity

Why Campus MattersThe enduring value of a campus lies in the creation of new knowledge, effective education, fostering creativity and sharing place and time.

This argument was presented at a recent conference. Here is the link to an edited version, in four voices: Thomas Gieryn, Thomas Fisher, Amir Hajrasouliha, and Michael Haggans. The Society of College and University Planning conference was held at Arizona State University. Gieryn, Fisher and Hajrasouliha participated via WebEx while Haggans was on campus.

Gieryn – Knowledge Creation – Thomas Gieryn is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and former Vice Provost at Indiana University. His research centers on the cultural authority of science and on the significance of place for human behavior and social change. His prize-winning book Cultural Boundaries of Science: Credibility on the Line was published by the University of Chicago Press. He is currently completing a book on “truth-spots,” places that lend legitimacy to beliefs and claims.

Fisher – Innovation – Thomas Fisher is Professor in the School of Architecture and Director of the Metropolitan Design Center at the University of Minnesota. He has written extensively about architectural design, practice, and ethics. His current research involves looking at the implications of the “Third Industrial Revolution” on architecture and cities in the 21st century. His newest book is, Some Possible Futures, Design Thinking our Way to a More Resilient World.

Hajrasouliha – Efficacy – Amir Hajrasouliha is Assistant Professor in City and Regional Planning at Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo. An architect and urban planner, Amir earned his Masters from the University of Michigan and doctorate from the University of Utah. His dissertation, The Morphology of the Well Designed Campus is the first research to quantify the relationship between the physical characteristics of a campus and student success. He is winner of the 2016 SCUP Perry Chapman Prize.

Haggans – Synchronicity – Michael Haggans is a Visiting Scholar in the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota and Visiting Professor in the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Tech. His research concerns the facilities implications of the digital transformation of higher education. He is writing a book on the value of campus in a digital world.

Online Impact on Campus

ImpactIs it possible that online courses will have no impact on the future of the campus?

Let’s look at the data. More than 25% of college students are taking at least one course online. Paring that down to traditional 4-year undergraduates, the equivalent of more than 400,000 full-time students are not in the classroom. This is the equivalent of 8 Arizona State Universities or 40 Harvards. Continue reading

University of Uber / Airbnb

GT.chaos.1.baseWhat are the Uber or Airbnb equivalents of the university? These are the questions Tom Fisher thinks campus planners should be asking.

We are at the trailing edge of six decades of campus facilities expansion. The resulting mix of assets can be a rich foundation on which to rebuild and right-size sustainable institutions, or part of an unsustainable burden that helps to sink the rest.

In a recent interview, Fisher argued for rethinking many of the assumptions of the physical campus.

The campuses we have inherited are way too big. I know that seems odd, because when you are on a campus everyone is crying for more space, but we have a lot of highly specialized space that goes under-utilized…the faculty office being one of the more notable ones. Increasingly faculty are carrying their office in their laptop and cell phone. So this idea of having a room set aside for yourself is really antiquated. Classrooms are changing. They will still be used, but the whole campus is a teaching environment. The whole city and region is a learning environment.

The Challenge for SCUP and Campus Planners

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Graduation Rates – Campus Does Matter

Hajrasouliha.1Campus does matter for graduation rates and Amir Hajrasouliha has done the math.

Three physical campus dimensions, urbanism, greenness and on-campus living, are significantly correlated with student retention and graduation rates. His work controlled for the influences of student selectivity, class size, total enrollment, university types and education expenditures. However, he found no significant correlation between student success and land use organization or spatial configuration.

Amir’s dissertation, The Morphology of the Well Designed Campus is the first research to use rigorous statistical methods to quantify the relationship between the physical characteristics of a campus and student success. This is not a series of case studies or perceptual surveys. This work connects the theory and practice of campus planning to student success by carefully controlling for relevant variables. Continue reading

Academic Libraries – Lee Van Orsdel

Academic libraries have long shown the signs of digital transformation. The card catalogue was the first old friend to leave the building. Online resources have grown exponentially.  Millions of unused books are being removed from active holdings.  A wave of construction is transforming academic libraries into vibrant hubs of campus activity and community – no longer cul-de-sacs of paper.

Often lost in the glitzy stories of architecture, trendy furniture and high tech gadgetry are the leaders and the ideas that are at the heart of the transformation. Now on the stage are Lee Van Orsel and a generation of academic librarians leading and sometimes pulling their organizations and institutions into a future that is both physical and digital.  They share a passion for the reinvention of libraries for people not paper, for access not control.

Lee and I talked at the Re-think It: Libraries for a New Age Conference at Grand Valley State University. Hers is a story of mission before place, changing academic culture before changing architecture and throughout serving to the needs of students and faculty. There are lessons here for all campus planners and designers.

Campus Shaping Forces – Dan Kenney

Dan Kenney Headshot.2Evolving cultural forces shape campuses generation by generation. In a recent conversation Dan Kenney, co-author of Mission and Place and I discussed these forces.

Founding campus visions may have defined an initial ideal core, but these institutions are not static. Demographic surges of post WWII, baby boomers, and their echoes have changed the functional scale of institutions. Suburbanization and the need for ubiquitous parking have pushed campus boundaries. Big science, big sport and their massive buildings have morphed the character and experience of campuses.

Dan has worked in this swirl of forces on more than sixty campuses. He believes in the continuing value of campuses and sees new opportunities in increasing environmental resilience and recognizing technological adaptation.

This conversation and those with other thought leaders can be found at the campusmatter.net YouTube channel.

Caring, Planning and Creating

Pamela Delphenich and Steven Gift have been involved in planning campuses for decades. Both are now in private practice, but each invested formative years in caring for, planning and creating major campuses.

Pam was at Yale and MIT, Steve at Virginia Tech and the University of South Florida. Their subsequent private practices are as different as the geography and history of Yale and South Florida. Even so, care and regard, even a passion for campuses are clear as each talks about physical places and the community of students and faculty served and enabled.

In separate conversations Delphenich and Gift speak from the experience of hundreds, if not thousands, of discussions with students, faculty members and administrators about the choices that guide the evolution of a campus and its plan.

While immediate concerns may be about parking, building sites and project funding, the campus planner keeps sight of a longer time horizon. The unspoken assumption in each academic mission statement is that the institution continues forever. Caring for, planning and creating the future of campuses is work Pamela and Steven hold dear. It is no wonder so many have found them to be trusted advisors.

The linked videos are on the campusmatters.net YouTube channel.